RAMONA WORKSHOPS: PERIOD WITCHES

I Used To Love Her, But Now I Love “HER”

Writing by Natalie Harman // Photograph by Nunzia Lollo

After reading the title of this article, you might be wondering who “her” is. At the same time, you might be wondering about the other “HER”. For the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on HER.

HER is allegedly the biggest and best dating app for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women worldwide. My use of “allegedly” is not out of scepticism; I simply can’t make such claims about LGBTIQA+ dating apps, as HER is the first one I have ever used. I do know, however, that right this moment, millions of LGBTIQA+ women are using HER to meet new friends, go on dates, find local LGBTIQA+ events, or just chat away. And now I’m one of them!

Ever since I first read about HER in this article on AfterEllen, I have been opening the App Store on my iPhone, searching for HER, staring at it while, and then closing the App Store with a brisk finger swipe that left me feeling as though I was pushing a real person away.

It wasn’t until I found myself commenting on a Facebook post about Noosa Council passing a motion supporting marriage equality that I’d never be gay marriage material, but I was happy for those who are being one step closer, that I realised something had to give. As a friend responded: “Always have hope Nat, you never know what the future holds. If marriage is something you want and strive for, you WILL find someone who improves your life and wants to walk that journey with you. They’re out there I can promise you that.” Deep down I knew she was right. I couldn’t wallow in self-pity listening to Against Me! forever—that would be no fun for my potential soulmate to endure. I decided it was time to take action and pursue HER.

Setting up my HER profile took less than five minutes; I simply signed in with my Facebook account, selected my favourite profile photograph, and added a bio (when I came up with something half-clever). I appreciated that a Facebook or Instagram account is required to sign up—a discreet way to weed out the faux-hers out there.

At first, I shyly navigated the Feed section as I received notification after notification of “likes” from women. I thought said monsoon of “likes” were part of the introductory process of the app. One of my friends said she thinks it’s because I’m beautiful. Who knows? All I knew was that I was secretly starving for more attention from ladies who love ladies—something I have been deprived of for most of my life—so I clicked on the “Meet” tab. I was then introduced to a spectrum of women who redefined the pronoun “her”: lesbian, queer, gay, bisexual, bi-curious, fluid, pansexual, flexisexual, polysexual, asexual, demisexual, TBD, questioning, – (???), and straight—and that’s only their sexualities!

As I currently identify as a lesbian, that narrowed down my choices significantly. I also developed my own ground rules for auto-dismissal through trial and error as I navigated the app:

  1. Nobody younger than me (physically OR emotionally—at 24 years of age, I don’t feel worthy of the cougar crown yet).
  2. No sunnies (the eyes are the window to your soul, and I doubt your eyes are polarised lenses).
  3. No Snapchat filters (hey, I wish your tongue was as long as that dog’s tongue is, trust me, but I’m sure it isn’t).
  4. Nobody more than 10 km away (I’ve been in a long-distance relationship before; I never again want to be with someone who lives over 2000 kilometres from me most of the time again—physically and emotionally).
  5. Any friends I find get a “like” for giggles (oh, wait, that’s not dismissal).

But then it happened. “It” being cute, funny, smart, and interesting women who broke all of my rules began to appear. Every time they did, my heart felt two sizes too small as I swiped to dismiss them. And once you’ve swiped, you can never go back (on the free version of the app, that is). I guess it’s a good thing rules were made to be broken.

Of course, not all my encounters have been good ones. If someone seems too good to be true, or not good at all, I’ve learnt to follow my gut instinct. Luckily, bad behaviour can be reported to the app moderators, or you can block the offender.

Yet I didn’t realise how much I loved HER until the government decided to implement The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. The general public’s response to this survey has been polarising, to put it lightly. I’m fortunate enough to have a wide support network of family and friends who love me even more so for my sexual orientation. The terrain outside this safe space, however, has proven to be much more rugged. There, people continually try to tell me through their words and actions that LGBTIQA+ women don’t exist, or worse: that who they are and what they feel is invalid. Considering this, it is more important than ever to keep creating places where we can be ourselves; loud or quiet, out or closeted, proud or humble. HER is one of those places, and so I hope to see you there.

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Natalie Harman

Natalie was once described as an editor, writer, and reader implicitly tangled
through the process of publication, reinventing and redefining what they embody. You can
get to know her better by sending her a few of her favourite things—pictures of hedgehogs,
knitting patterns, and fan mail—via neh_@live.com

Nunzia Lollo

Nunzia Lollo is a young photographer based in a little town near Rome. She loves photography and her camera is always with her. She hopes her work will be appreciated and enjoyed. Follow her on Facebook.

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